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December 7, 2017


Back when we were in college, a sometimes thing for some kids in our dorm to do was to sit across from each other on the floor in the hallway and lift their legs so that they locked with each other, forming a sort-of gate, or barrier that you could not cross. They called this "the cosmic toll booth" and you couldn't pass until you gave them a "cosmic pearl of wisdom." And they were discerning little gatekeepers too, these Camus of the campus, these Aristotles of Storrs, and they wouldn't let you pass unless they deemed you cosmic, or pearly, or wise enough. A little bit of an impediment to going to, oh, say, bed, or the bathroom, or class. My now-husband, then-boyfriend, sometimes impatient, occasionally exasperated, when caught in this predicament would always reply with this: "I looked into the face of God and saw you."

Isn't pass. It always yielded the desired result and he got to walk through. I can't remember any of the nuggets I might've come up with but I will always remember what he said because of the reaction it got. Sometimes it was an "ooohh" or even a "thank you" but always a very genuine smile. They actually seemed touched, even slightly pleased.

I wonder about that on occasion, but I really shouldn't be surprised. Never mind the veracity of it under those circumstances, they just seemed to like hearing it.

Because really, who doesn't want to be seen, really seen? Not necessarily god-like, but recognized for being children of God, created in His image, and for all the potential that lies within us because of that - for the value we hold, for being totally accepted and not judged, for being completely loved, unconditionally, and for the tremendous capacity for loving, in turn. For being filled with grace. And for the incredible peace all of this brings.

I'm not saying we need to say this phrase out loud to everyone we meet, but it wouldn't hurt to think it. Because maybe if we do see God in everyone we meet, we might treat them differently. Imagine if everyone felt seen and recognized and treated and loved as children of God. Imagine the barriers that would break down. What a cosmic world that would be!

In peace,



Mark Your Calendars for a Wonderful River of Grace Holy Holiday Season

Dumfries Christmas Parade

THIS Saturday, December 9

It's the annual Dumfries Christmas Parade! Come join in the fun!

It's a great event that touches so many people, and we get to introduce them to River of Grace! We have a tailgate party where we pass out hotdogs and cocoa to everyone!

We're meeting in the RoG church parking lot at 8:00am and departing for the parade at 8:30am. (There's also plenty of room for parking in Dumfries.) We have plenty of food for the event , so no need for food donations, just bring yourselves and the great welcoming fellowship that River of Grace is known for!


Children's Christmas Program

Our Children's Christmas Program will take place on Sunday, December 17th during worship!

All Sunday's Cool (Pre K-4 years to 5th grade) & Youth Group (middle and high schoolers) are still welcome take part in this very service!

If you'd like to participate or help, please see Karen Stamp.

Rehearsals will be: Wednesday, Dec 13, 6:30-7:30pm, and during Sunday's Cool.

Enjoy a heartwarming service and then stay afterwards for our annual Christmas Party downstairs!


Church Christmas Party!

On December 17, downstairs, right after our worship service and Children's Program, it's our annual Church

Christmas Party!

Fun, festive, delicious - and a visit from Santa - this is a party for all ages! Everyone bring a snack to share!

Please see Jenn, Gretchen or Chris if you'd like to help with this fun event!


Christmas Eve at River of Grace

Make plans to join us Christmas Eve! Bring your family, friends and guests for dinner! Please see the sign-up to bring your favorite holiday dish!

Want to help with our Christmas Eve dinner?

Please see Gretchen or see the sign up!


Adult Education on Tuesdays

Step into faith at River of Grace with our Stepping Stones Adult Education series. Discover, swim, and finally dive into what it means to be a Christian and a Lutheran here at River of Grace.

Didn't make it to this first 100 level of class? That's okay! Join us our 200 level class when we swim further into our faith!

Just as Jesus used parables to explain important life lessons, we will focus on a different parable each week and related scripture and see how it relates to our everyday lives.

We will meet at RoG on Tuesdays from 7:00 - 8:00pm.


Stewardship Pledge Cards due

Thank you for returning your pledge cards. If you haven't had a chance to bring yours in yet, please bring it with you this Sunday!

And thank you for your generosity in helping us Love God + Love Others


Sunday Morning Adult Bible Study: The Christmas Story according to the Gospel of Luke

The Christmas story is about Jesus being born in a humble beginning, but what else do we know about? And more importantly, does it make any difference in our lives?

It can!

It makes a difference for how a person tells a story and also for how a person hears a story.

We invite you to come and discover the meanings, treasures, and hopes that are hidden within the Christmas story at an Adult Bible Study on Sunday mornings from 9:30-10:15 until Sunday, December 24.

Come join us to find out about this Emperor, this Ruler, this city of Bethlehem, the travel journey of Joseph and Mary, and even more.

Discoveries that can truly change the way you experience Christmas!

Our class will be led by Pastor Connie and Jim Hedrick, and we look forward to your joining us. Teens are welcome to take part, too! If you have kids and want to be part of the study, just let us know and we will be sure that they are well cared for during the Adult Ed time. Please let Pastor Connie know here if you have any questions or if you are in need of child care.

Christmas holds amazing gifts for us all. Come experience the story even more!


Church Directory - photo makeups

River of Grace

Congregational Directory and photo opportunity!

We had a great turnout for our church directory photo sessions last weekend, and a great experience too! Many terrific photos were taken and there were many happy subjects!

If you weren't able to make the photo sessions last weekend, the good news is we have opportunities for makeups! You can still get your pics in the directory!

1) Make-up photo opportunity with the Lifetouch photographers on December 13/14, at Eastland United Methodist Church on the south side of Fredericksburg. You can be a "visitor" at their photo shoot by calling Lifetouch at 866-756-0281, and providing them with our ROG photo account #429465. The format and background will be matched with the photos taken at ROG. You'll still get a free 8x10 and the opportunity to purchase a package if you wish. If you take advantage of this option, please let Kathy Panther know so that she can make sure your photo gets connected with our directory.

2) You can provide a photo of your choice to Kathy to be included in the directory. The photo must be received no later than Sunday, December 17, and can be left in the office with Gretchen. Please include the names of everyone in the photo as you would like them to appear in the directory, your mailing address, and emails and telephone numbers for the adults.

3) Ann Owen has graciously agreed to photograph anyone who would like to take advantage of this option. Please let Kathy Panther know if you are interested in this option and she will coordinate a time with Ann.

Please contact Kathy Panther here for any questions about the above information.


Pizza and Praise - what a FUN night!

Well, our family-friendly Worship Evening last night was a HUGE success! 61 people - of all ages - came to listen, worship, laugh, sing, and gather together in fellowship - and eat pizza! We made some new friends and visited with old ones. It was fun, lively, beautiful and uplifting, and we're going to do it again!

We're planning on the first Wednesday of every month, so put January 3 from 6:00-7:00pm on your calendar and make sure you join us for another night of Pizza & Praise!


Giving Tree at River of Grace

Perhaps you've noticed our Giving Tree downstairs in our fellowship area. Right now it is decorated with angel ornaments with requests from our senior citizen friends at Envoy nursing home. You're invited to untrim the tree by taking an angel and being their Santa and making someone's Christmas very happy! Instructions are on the angel, and they ask that the gifts be unwrapped in a giftbag and returned to River of Grace no later than December 17. Thank you to everyone who so generously chose an angel! If you'd still like one, there are still a few more left!

And then, we have an opportunity for you to decorate the tree again with ELCA Good Gifts©, life-sustaining gifts for those in need here in America and around the world. You'll find the round ornaments labeled with specific gifts, and as you choose the ornament and its donation you can decorate the tree with it! You will see that with each ornament

you can transform someone's life!

(If you pay by check, please make checks payable to River of Grace and note "ELCA GoodGifts" in the memo line.)

In this Advent and Christmas season as we wait with joyful hope, isn't it good that we can spread some joy and hope too?


Restorative Yoga during Advent

Christ-Centered Yoga with certified teacher Sharon Harvey!

Thursdays, 7:00-8:00pm

Please join us for our new YOGA series!

An Advent Journey: Restorative Yoga, Prayer & Meditation

Enjoy the beauty of this holy holiday season in a beautiful, relaxing, healthy way: we'll worship God, practice yoga, listen to uplifting worship music, reduce stress, increase energy, strength and flexibility, and share in the beautiful advent season of the birth of the hope and love that is promised to all of us!

No experience necessary! It's FREE and everyone is welcome!


Amazon Smile

Shopping online at Amazon, and giving to your church at the same time? What could be better than that!

All you need to do is go to the AmazonSmile link on the front page, put in your Amazon account login info, shop, and then a percentage of all eligible Amazon purchases will go directly back to River of Grace! There are no fees, and it's a great way to do all of your favorite Amazon shopping, and you'll be giving back at the same time!

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